Monday, September 10, 2012

Kashmir pros and cons

* The driver who picked me up in Delhi to take me to the airport at one point stopped the car and tried to kiss me and feel me up. I hit him and said no! I have no idea why he thought that was okay. But it got the entire trip off to a bad start.

* My flight was delayed about 3 hours. And I couldn't access Internet at the airport.

* On the one hour flight I sat next to a delightful little girl and her father and he and I talked the whole way. He and his wife are both from Kashmir and now they're doctors in the USA. He really was a very nice person and I am glad of it.

* No problems in Srinagar getting my bag, going through the foreigner registration, and finding my driver to the house boat. I reported the Delhi driver to the tour person who met me and he was also appalled. I don't know if anything will happen, but at least the ass has been reported.

* The houseboat is truly deluxe! I was afraid I'd be getting some dinky little thing hardly staying afloat, but it is really kind of cheerily awesome. I have a room and bathroom to myself. There is a dining room, sitting room, and a balcony over the lake. It's extraordinarily peaceful.

* What is not peaceful are the men who work there. Always pestering me. Do I want this? Do I want that? Would I like to buy some XY or Z? No, I just want to be left alone.

* The manager is who led me to having the panic attack last night.

* But what I do love about it is that I am in one of the prettiest places I've ever seen. Despite the rain, despite the mud, despite the chaos... Kashmir is truly beautiful. Yes, I wish I'd had better weather, but you can't let a little bad weather ruin a perfectly good time!

* Took a three hour boat ride yesterday. So relaxing I almost fell asleep a few times!

* Today I went to Gulmarg and went on the highest tram in the world. Again with the pouring rain! So I didn't see a damn thing. But riding up and down the tram I felt like I was floating up to the heavens. It was beautiful.

* Have taken tons and tons of photos! I'll try to post a few here. When I can't keep trying to post to FB and Flickr. It have had very little luck. So just keep your eyes peeled. At some point there will be more pictures!

* Have purchased two Kashmiri shawls. If you know me and my obsession with shawls are you at all surprised? The first one he offered 1400 rupees, I countered with 800 and we settled with 900. (~ $16). The second was quoted 1500, countered 1000, he responded 1200, I stuck to 1100 and refused to budge til he accepted it. That's about $20. Hand embroidered, and just amazing.

* * *

Tomorrow I have a jeep taking me to Jammu. Then I'll catch a bus to Amritsar.
McDonalds in India has some new items on the menu!
Bedroom on the House Boat on Dal Lake.
Sunset from my bedroom window.
People use the lake to get around.
Kashmiri tea is my new favorite thing.
Everything on the lake is used somehow.
Lotus blossoms everywhere this time of year!
Birds, too.
Yes, Kashmir is a very militaristic state.  It's creepy.
Traffic is no joke here.
Army caravan caused a traffic jam.
Little Girl coming out of her home.
Lucky I could see the trees.
We are insanely high up.
Road up to the Gondola.
Me at the top of the Gondola.
I couldn't resist all that yellow!

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